New Zealand suspends annual funding to Nauru Island

New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, says NZ will suspend funding to Nauru Island due to freedom of press and human rights issues

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully

New Zealand announced on Thursday that its suspending the NZ$1.2 million ($762,500) aid they annually give to Nauru Island, as they suspect human rights and freedom of press violations, according to Radio New Zealand.

"The government has decided to place a hold on the funding we provide to the Nauru justice sector until such time as we see some positive movement in the situation there," New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, said in a statement.

"We've just not been able to successfully resolve the differences that exist on that matter," he said.

However, before NZ proceeded with the decision, they met with the justice minister along with other ministers from Nauru, where they were assured that the issues will be resolved soon.

"We agreed to go forward with our funding on that basis. Now I've reminded them of the obligation that they entered into with us at that time,” McCully said.

"I've made it clear that some of the actions that have taken place recently we regard as being incompatible with those assurances." 

McCully also confirmed his meeting with Nauru’s Justice Minister, David Adeang, pointing out that a solution has not been found yet.

"I did talk to Mr Adeang a couple of days ago. We haven't managed to resolve things. For that reason we will leave things in a holding pattern until we can," he said.

Australia is also concerned about Nauru following the rule of law. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, was assured about the issue by the president of the island.

"I sought assurances from him that the rule of law would be upheld, that the judiciary system would have integrity in its processes, and that there would be fair dealing with the opposition members who had been either detained or charged," Ms Bishop said.

Nauru’s government said it is disappointed by the decision, adding that such an action was misdirected.

The recent incident brings back memories of the case of the suspended member of parliament, Roland Kun, who was stripped of his passport and still can not enter the country. During an interview, Kun spoke about violation of freedom of speech, as Nauru government was thinking about banning Facebook on the island. ABC reported that, Kun also spoke negatively about Nauru's President, Baron Waqa and Justice Minister David Adeang. 

Despite the suspension of the funding, New Zealand will continue funding the island for education programs with about NZ$1 million, Reuters reports.

TRTWorld and agencies